Last June 2013, Dr. Williams posted about the protective effects of caffeine. Several scientific studies have recently suggested that caffeine may be good for us in a number of ways. It may protect us against skin cancer and Alzheimer’s, help us maintain a healthy weight, and even contribute to a longer life.
Still, despite these benefits, some people are sensitive to caffeine. For some of us, it causes anxiety, the jitters, and restlessness. Some have trouble sleeping if they consume too much, or experience stomach upset. It can cause mood swings and irritability, even contribute to a fast heartbeat or muscle tremors.
If you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine—or if you have already consumed too much on any particular day—but you’re still dragging, what do you do? You didn’t get enough sleep. You’ve got too much going on. You’re trying to get your work done, but your eyes are heavy. If you know that turning to that cup of coffee or energy drink will hurt more than help, here are some other options.
12 Natural Wake-Up Options
1. Strike a pose.
Yoga can be a natural energy booster. It unblocks energy along the spine, bringing life force back into your body through breath and movement. Certain poses can also help counter the effects of long periods of sitting. Vyda Bielkus, yoga instructor and founder of the Health Yoga Life studio in Boston, told the Huffington Post, “As we sit throughout the day, the energy in the spine gets stuck and stagnant. So when we elongate the spine, it energizes the nervous system. That’s why the back bends are so invigorating.” Try a simple back bend with your hands on your lower back, open your chest, and inhale deeply. Another option—try the half-moon pose. You can find instructions on all types of yoga poses on You Tube. (Here’s one for half-moon.)
2. Get outside.
Particularly if you work in an office, getting outside can wake up your brain. You’re moving your body, which helps, but you’re also getting a good dose of real sunshine, fresh air, and outdoor noises. The change of scenery will help break up the monotony of a sterile environment. If you can, take your work or your meeting outside.
3. Get moving.
So many of us start to drag after sitting for an extended period of time. Take a walk around the block. Get up and do a few jumping jacks, head up and down the stairs, dance to your favorite song on your iPod, or play with a jump rope for a bit. Physical exercise gets your heart pumping and increases circulation to your brain, helping to make you more alert.
4. Sniff some oil.
Essential oils like citrus, peppermint, or jasmine are known to help increase alertness. Keep some at your desk and when you start nodding off, rub some on your hands or temples—maybe a little even on your upper lip. You can also try a bit on a cotton ball placed behind your keyboard.
5. Phone a friend.
Even five minutes talking to someone you care about can help bring you back to the world of the living. Call your best friend, a sibling, or your mom—just be sure you’re clear that you have only five minutes to prevent the call from taking over your day.
6. Bite an apple.
Apples contain natural sugars to wake you up, but because of the fiber content, they move slowly through your body and won’t cause a crash later on. Plus, they’re easy to take with you wherever you might be.
7. Drink some water.
Being even slightly dehydrated can make you feel tired. When was the last time you took a drink of some cool, clear water? Make it cold—that will help wake you up.
8. Put in your headphones.
Uplifting, snappy music is one of the few things that can help get you going almost instantly. It can also put you in a better mood than you were before. Choose those songs you like best that get you dancing, and create a playlist called “wake up!”
9. Give your eyes a break.
Long hours of staring at the computer screen causes eye fatigue. You may not be really tired—it may just be that your eyes are tired. Take a break at least once an hour to look away from the screen. Use your distance vision. Look out the window. If you don’t have a window, move to where you can look outside. A five-minute gaze at something else can help you feel more alert.
10. Do something new.
Doing the same things over and over again can quickly make you tired and zoned out. Depending on your job, you may not be able to shake it up a lot, but usually we have some choices about what we do, when. If you’ve been working on one report for three hours, for instance, and you’re starting to drag, switch gears to something else for awhile. When you come back, you’ll be in a better state to tackle that bigger project again.
Laughter wakes you up, plain and simple. Bring up some new jokes online, or watch some funny YouTube videos. Just give yourself a time limit—even five minutes of laughter can make a big difference in how you feel.
12. Lighten up.
How many layers of clothing are you wearing? Sometimes when we get tired and our brains start to fog up, we don’t realize that we’re actually a little warm. If you still have a jacket, sweater, or wrap on, try taking it off—the cooler temperature on your arms and torso will likely help wake you up.